By: Andrew “Fish” Fain
This is the time in the Hot Stove season that all the columns are written telling you who won and who lost the winter meetings. It is ridiculous to have a winner and or loser at the winter meetings for several reasons.
First of all, the off-season is still going strong. There are still 3 months until pitchers and catchers report, which means there is a ton of time to sign a free agent or make a trade to improve your club.
Secondly, winners and losers are purely subjective when you are talking about off-season moves. I mean, was acquiring Shelby Miller a good move or bad move for the D-Backs? On the one hand, he is a young, talented pitcher who will slot in nicely behind Zack Greinke. But on the other hand, the haul they gave up to get him was way too much for a talent like Miller. So who is to say if it is a good or bad move?
Finally, and probably most importantly, do you remember who won the 2014 winter meetings? Most will tell you it was the San Diego Padres. You know what they got for winning? Three less wins than the 2014 version of the Padre. So even winning the winter meetings doesn’t mean squat in the win column.
So instead of giving you winners and losers, or even a report card grade, I am going go over several teams and talk about what they have done and what they still have left to do. So let’s start at the top, because to the victor goes the spoils, the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals lost Ben Zobrist and Ryan Madson, and will probably lose Alex Gordon and Johnny Cueto. So what have they done to try to remain on the top of the mountain? Well, continuing on the path that got them here, they added to their bullpen depth by signing Joakim Soria to a 3-year deal and inking Joba Chamberlain to a minor league deal. They resigned Chris Young to help keep their rotation in-tact, and they added back-up catcher Tony Cruz. They still need a couple of outfielders to replace Gordon and Alex Rios, and probably another starter. They will probably looking for guys on the cheaper side, like Gerardo Parra, or make a trade. But this team will still be a force to be reckoned with.
How about the Mets? Well they lost Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes, and lost out on Ben Zobrist. But, it may be a blessing in disguise as they were able to trade for Neil Walker to play 2nd and signed Asdrubal Cabrera for short. Which means the money they had earmarked for Zobrist can now be spent on an outfield bat. They will probably look at Justin Upton and Alex Gordon to fill that spot, or even possibly make a trade for a guy like Jay Bruce.
The Cubs had a very busy, and very successful winter meetings as they added John Lackey and Ben Zobrist from the free agent pool (which is a double win as that means they took Lackey from the Cards and stopped the Mets from getting Zobrist). Then they dealt Starlin Castro to the Yankees and were able to add another good arm in Adam Warren and a utility guy in Brendan Ryan. They still are in the race (at least at the time of this writing) for Jason Heyward as well. This is going to be a good team for a long time.
The other really busy team was the Diamondbacks who have really reshaped their roster. They made a huge splash by signing Zack Greinke away from the Dodgers (and Giants) to be their ace. Then they added Shelby Miller to be their #2 in a trade with the Braves. Of course, they overpaid slightly for him by sending Ender Inciarte, Aaron Blair and 2015 #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson to Atlanta. In the short run, this will be a great move for the D-Backs, but if Swanson turns out to be as good as everyone thinks he will, it will hurt on about 3 years.
The Red Sox have had a very good off-season so far. Their first move was to trade for Craig Kimbrel, putting Koji Uehara in a set-up role, making their bullpen much better. Then they signed Chris Young, a move that people may have not been too excited about, but I promise you before the end of the season, he will have several important at bats and will come through, he is the perfect fourth outfielder. Then they killed it by signing David Price to a 7 year $200+ million contract to be the ace of the staff, putting all the other starters down one spot and making this a scary good team. Then, as the coup de gras, they trade Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners for Carson Smith, who was a stud in a set-up role in his rookie season and Roenis Elias, who is a solid swing man. There are still rumors about dealing Clay Bucholz, but this team could go to Spring Training just like this and be a favorite to win the AL East.
The Dodgers are the other team that has been the talk of Nashville. First they lost Greinke to their NL West rivals in Arizona. Then they had a deal for Aroldis Chapman all set, until it was found out that Chapman may have choked his wife and fired 8 shots into his empty garage, so they nixed that deal. They did sign former Mariner starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who is solid, but no replacement for Greinke. They also shocked everyone by naming Dave Roberts as their new manager. The team has been tied to many players including Johnny Cueto, Jason Heyward, Jose Fernandez, Todd Frazier and Sonny Gray. This ownership group will not sit idly by as the Diamondbacks become more relevant, so be sure that they will still be making moves this off-season, and they better to take the bad taste of this off-season so far out of their mouths.
Their two biggest rivals in San Francisco and St Louis are having a tough off-season too. The Giants lost out on the Greinke bidding, so they signed Jeff Samardzija to a 5 year $90 million deal. They are still in the market for another starter and a left fielder, so they bear watching. While the Cardinals missed out Lackey, lost Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery and risk losing Jason Heyward in free agency, somehow I do not think the trade of Jon Jay for Jedd Gyorko will satisfy the Cards or their fanbase. This is a franchise that will have a lot of money soon too, so they too will have an interesting off-season.
Of course other teams made off-season news too, like the Tigers adding Jordan Zimmerman, the Yankees swearing they will fiscally responsible, Billy Beane wheeling and dealing again, the Astros adding a stud closer (Ken Giles), the Nationals hiring Dusty Baker and adding to the bullpen, and there are still a ton of moves left to be made.
So just because they have closed up shop in Nashville, and there are 3 months until camps in Arizona and Florida get busy, do not fret, I promise you the biggest news of the off-season has not happened yet.
By: Andrew “Fish” Fain